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Western Australia / Australia · 2010   tumblestar
 

 

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   Two months were never gonna be enough time for this behemoth of a country, but it was what we had and we did what we had to do with what we had. Most of all, I will always remember Australia as the place where my first love first cracked. Back then, back there, my torment dwarfed the grand land and could not be explained by a 23-year-old child, but the notion has sobered up by now to be dry fact, and no bitter or sour aftertaste lingers. That love was killed by the indifferent tides of time and change, so how could I hold it against you Australia, if I can’t even hold it against the universe? Speaking of which, I wonder if there are others like you in the universe – too big to be an island, but too islandish not to be one. Then again, I guess Africa, Eurasia and the Americas are also just a bunch of humongous, weirdly shaped islands. Anyways, I’m digressing mate. Back to Australia, a continent full of deadly animals that is just a continent when you are there, and where those fluffy Koalas sound a lot more ursine than a stranger would expect. My emotional narrative of that god-size sandbox in the ocean remained untainted, as it does with the benefit of abandoning the bad in that fog of memories and rescuing the good from it. What stayed with me is what the eyes shared so generously with the heart – those freehand landscape-designs Wind had willed with his erratic path, and those cityscape-designs man had annexed. What is left behind is what the heart projected onto the mind’s eyes when they were shut during long, wake nights of lying side by side with an unsurmountable distance squeezed between us: the sight of thrown up love.

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a glimpse

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Geraldton / Australia · 2010   sand riders

playing soccer at sunset in a park in Brisbane

Evening fell through the trees and the last rays were the longest.

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Brisbane / Australia · 2009   long rays   

The Great Ocean Road was crammed with views like this.

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Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   too much view to move on lightly 

View onto Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road in Australia
 

 
 
 
 
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places / stories

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East Coast / Wanting to Be What It Was

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Surfers Paradise / Australia · 2009   surfing on sunshine

The East Coast felt like it wanted to be the cliché it was – the surfer blokes were abundant wherever the jellyfish weren’t; skin cancer clinics proliferated in the ozone hole of the Gold Coast; and the sun was heavy but easy, and the mood light on those laid-back sunbeds.

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Queensland / Australia · 2009   urban waterfall

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Queensland / Australia · 2009   skinny cows

 

Great Barrier Reef / Australia · 2009   underwater skins

Everybody looked like caricatures of themselves in those wetsuits – communal underwater skins that were passed on from one tourist generation to the next. I passed. I wanted to be in my skin and my skin only to immerse myself fully in the crystal realm that is the Great Barrier Reef. Armed with nothing but a snorkel and the spirit of a frontiersman, I set out. But I wasn’t much of a frontiersman when I felt a semi-suspicious sting across my chest not too long after hopping into that Southern Pacific bathtub. I couldn't help remembering that there was a reason they had urged us to wear wetsuits during jellyfish season. Suddenly, I felt pretty dizzy, and I didn’t know whether it was the fear of death or Death himself closing in on me. They were calling us back to the platform for a lunchbreak, and I was happy to get out of the water even though my appetite was nullified. From one moment to the next, I heard my life’s countdown ticking a lot louder and faster. Was my remaining time measured in minutes rather than years? Or had I merely brushed a coral? The pain, itch, and redness were of more psychological than physiological discomfort, which was comforting. In the end, I survived, gloriously, whatever little thing had cast that long, dark shadow upon my fragile mind. During the boat ride back, I had time to unpack my underwater impressions prior to the not-so-near-death experience: the fact that the reef wasn’t as colorful as others and downright dead in some parts; and the notion that our presence might have been our very contribution to its demise; and I remembered that droll fish. They‘d introduced it on the video loop on the way in and I’d actually made its acquaintance. Propelled by some courage much bigger than its size, the little fella would shoot towards your face like a torpedo, only to abort the attack right before impact. Fun.



 

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Those tour operators in Hervey Bay had laughed at our baby SUV, literally and mercilessly, when we told them we’d take it to Fraser Island. And we had laughed off their laughter and done it anyway. It took a winch and about twenty people to get us out of that powder sand, 30 minutes into our first trip on day one. So it wasn’t without reason that my friends opted for a tour on day two to harvest the main sites of the island alongside everyone else. With everbody gone, I had the rest of the sandbox all to myself, and the many trees that had set up camp right on the beach seemed excited enough to see me.

 

Fraser Island / Australia · 2009   teenage tree

The beach was heavily frequented by miniature crabs, and thousands upon thousands of them would come together in black patches all along the shore. A lot shier than their numbers let on, they were always one step faster at digging into the wet sand than I was at approaching them. Within seconds, an entire patch would vanish off the face of the earth to live an unknown underlife until their confidence in the beach order was restored.

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Fraser Island / Australia · 2009   holy crab

I circled back through a forest, but not before happening across a sign that read DANGER in fat, red letters to warn me of Dingoes. With those letters etched into the back of my head, I stepped on it with my flimsy flip flops flapping, only to run straight into a spider web – not a cobweb – that was large enough to span across the entire width of the path. In a motion-mix of slapping, picking and tearing, I tried to remove the sticky silk with so much haste that I knocked my sunglasses right off my face, and it took me awhile to find them. Some days later, I waved them goodbye once more, this time in the rearview mirror of our car. I'd left them sitting on top of the roof while loading groceries, but they didn't choose to fall off until we hit a busy highway. I pulled onto the shoulder, watched them laugh at me hysterically while lying in the middle of the lane, surviving one car after the other and even a truck with as many axils as a centipede, before I picked them up unscathed. Now they are at the bottom of Sydney harbor thanks to a suicidal race boat pilot. May they rest in peace and not hold any grudges.



 

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Sydney / Australia · 2009   ocean skyline


 

 

Bondi Beach / Australia · 2009   crescent sandbox

We switched couples in Sydney. First it had been her, him, and me, and me sleeping in the car in every suburb between Cairns and Sydney, and then it was her, me, and her, and starry nights in tents along the Great Ocean Road and West Coast. I liked Sydney, like one easily likes a city by the sea.



 

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South Coast / Beautiful Drag

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The Great Ocean Road was a bit of a drag. We had to stop and admire it at every turn.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   every bend a view

Those rock formations were done masterfully.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   sand and stone

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Sea and wind, hand in hand, chipping away at rock and time.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   the hole made it whole

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South Australia / Australia · 2009   untamed shore



 

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West Coast / West Universe

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Pinnacles Desert / Australia · 2010   renegade rocks
 





They called it the West Coast, but really it was the West Universe. Its every place seemed misplaced in this here world, and much better suited for exoplanets elsewhere. Where and why on Earth would city folk expect pink lagoons and pinnacle deserts, seashell beaches and stromatolites?




 

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Hutt Lagoon / Australia · 2010   nature playing with watercolors

Stromatolites, Hamelin Pool / Australia · 2010   life at its oldest

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Western Australia / Australia · 2010   orange planet

 

Shell Beach / Australia · 2010   soft shells

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Geraldton / Australia · 2010   the wind will wash it away

It’s hard to be mad at the person who fed the wild dolphins one day in the 1960s when they are so pretty, coming back for more every day since.

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Monkey Mia / Australia · 2010   dolphin mate

 

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related

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There was more water than land down there and they settled where they landed, near the ocean that was their only connection with home – a water-band that would never be severed. see more

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elsewhere

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in Oceania